There is perhaps no more relevant data to a consumer making a decision online than reviews and testimonials. In fact, 90% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by reviews, and 86% say that negative reviews influence what they buy. And the mortgage industry has been allowing online reviews more than a decade ahead of other financial institutions (many of which still don't allow reviews.)
But online testimonials remain a challenge. While many collect online reviews on their own websites, they still need more, better, and fresher testimonials. Often customers only leave reviews when they are very happy or very mad, which can result in an imbalance that doesn't fairly represent the experience of most customers. By broadly inviting your homebuyers to leave reviews on your websites, you can rectify that imbalance. In short, encouraging all customers to leave testimonials on your website is one way to make sure you are showing up prominently in search and being represented accurately.
As the diversity of rating and review content grows online, so does the consumer's appetite to take in vast amounts of it. Consumers historically have sought out 10.4 pieces of information, on average, before making a local purchase. That number doubled from the year before, and reflects the demand for data and information about your local brand experience. A homebuyer's desire to research purchase decisions is not endless, however, and the consequence is that they have come to rely on customer testimonials as a way to battle decision-fatigue. The review provides a signal that influences whether a homebuyer considers your mortgage business, or not.
This increasing reliance of homebuyers on reviews has three key impacts on your mortgage business:
- Organic search and map results on both mobile and desktop can now include star ratings for your locations you generate fresh, first-party reviews for these entities yourself. By broadly generating reviews from your customers, you are helping to accurately reflect the true consumer perception of your business. If you aren't "starring in search," you could be missing a major opportunity to highlight your locations and your brand.
- When consumers leave search results to dig in a little deeper on your business, they'll often end up on third-party search sites like Yelp. There, their attention will shift from the star rating to the written reviews of your offices and officers. What are consumers saying about you? They are often not only looking for how consumers view you, but how you engage with your customers to both thank them for taking the time to leave you a thoughtful review and also to resolve any potential issues. By responding to reviews, you can highlight the level of customer service your customers and can come to expect from your business.
- Testimonials give lenders an opportunity to showcase not only your locations but the efforts that lending officers go through to get people into their homes. Reviews of individual lenders help the mortgage industry elevate its biggest asset — your professionals.